Numb. That's how you feel. Numb, cold and empty. You’re no longer whole; the other half of yourself has been snatched cruelly away and left behind this broken shell that can barely function from one passing second to the next. Another breath is pushed down your frail throat, a motion that used to come so easily, now taking every ounce of strength you possess leaving you more exhausted than before. You let it out with a sigh and start the whole damn thing again.
You never thought you would have to get through this; it wasn’t supposed to happen this way. You vowed never to leave each other. What’s happened to that promise now? It’s broken, like you.
‘George, you’re up.’ A voice whispers in your ear.
Turning around slowly you see Bill’s face etched with concern looking back at you. Forcing your brain to work you realise you’re being called to speak. You close your eyes and swallow, you have to do this. Not one of these people knows your brother like you do, from the playful toddler he was, to the hero he became before he…
No. You cannot say that word or bring yourself to accept the harsh reality that you will never see him again, never joke, never laugh. It just hurts too much to even contemplate; denial is so much easier, so much simpler.
Being careful to place one foot in front of the other you slowly make your way up to the tufty-looking wizard performing the ceremony. Forgetting why you’re here, recognition sweeps across your face and a slight smirk starts to tug the corner of your lips skyward for the first time in weeks. You turn to tell your brother the joke that’s already starting to form in your clever mind but as you gaze at the empty space next to you realisation hits you like a train wreck once more, battering your fragile body with everything you’ve worked so hard not to feel.
Suffocating in emotion, you flee. The weight of the situation is crushing you and you need to escape the watchful eyes of the audience you usually revel in. You’re falling apart, spiralling down and you don’t need everyone to witness it. Planning your exit route quickly, you Apparate before anyone can stop you. It isn’t far but you can’t risk anyone following you. Not to here. This is your special place and it has to stay that way. You look around the familiar den, breathing it in. Memories come flooding back, planning your pranks, inventing your creations, hiding from your mother. It becomes too much and you finally let go, collapsing forward on to the soft ground; you let your sobs escape.
The voice was quiet but you heard it as clear as if it had been shouted. Your sobs catch in your throat and your head snaps up as your eyes search greedily for the owner of that voice, the one you know better than even your own, desperate to see him again, desperate for this not to be a trick of your imagination.
There he stands in front of you: flaming red hair, trademark green dragon-skin coat and looking more alive than you can ever remember him being. The only difference is the eyes; where his mischievous nature once shone through, all you can see is his pain and sorrow. Your jaw drops and just hangs as you gaze at him, frozen to the spot.
‘Well aren’t you a sight for dead eyes?’ he asks you, concern still clouding his eyes but the hint of a smile starts playing on his lips now you’re not a blubbering mess. ‘I’ve got to say bro, this ain’t your best look.’
And just like that, with just that small, almost joke, your pain all but vanishes and you feel lighter without the weight of missing him hung around your neck. The Weasley twins: back in business once more. You breathe freely and easily not caring that seeing him probably means you have died too. Life means nothing without him anyway; you had to learn that the hard way, didn’t you?
‘Sorry, I was a bit late’ he continues absentmindedly picking at something on his sleeve while you continue to gawk stupidly at him. ‘Lily was fussing over me. Honestly, she’s nearly as bad as mum! I got here in time for all the drama to kick off though. You’re too predictable though mate, it wasn’t hard to find you.’
‘Surely not.’ You reply naturally, finding your voice and shocking even yourself. ‘No woman has ever fussed as much as Molly Weasley!’
He smiles at the way you purposefully ignore his last remark, but he lets it slide. He walks over and plops himself on the floor in front of you.
‘Ah, but your forgetting my dear brother – Lily hasn’t had anyone to fuss over. Sixteen years of pent up feelings... It’s like she’s on overdrive.’ He rolls his eyes at you. ‘And poor Harry’s got all this to look forward too.’ He finishes with his smirk.
‘Fred, am I… Am I dead?’ You can’t help the foolish question tumbling from your lips. It doesn’t seem like such a crazy idea, the pain you just felt could easily have finished you off.
‘Don’t be thick, that’s Ron’s job.’ He grins at you, with a satisfied look on his face. ‘You didn’t think I was going to miss my own party did you? Quite a good turn out if I do say so myself, I’ve even reduced McGonagall to tears George! Actual tears! We’ve been trying to achieve that for years!’
Despite yourself a smile starts creeping onto your face. ‘Hmm she always was a tough nut to crack. That was one thing I never thought we’d manage!’
‘We never have been ones to give up though, eh? The place looks rather spiffing by the way, George. I’m guessing you had a lot to do with that? It looks like a funeral fit for a King!’ He beams at you. Even now the ability to practically read each other’s minds still amazes you as he answers the one question you were burning to ask but didn’t know how to put into words.
‘I did, but I was thinking more along the lines of the Kings jester than the actual King.’ You think back to the multi-coloured marquee you left behind and all the guests wearing colourful robes. Now, with your brother by your side once more you can actually appreciate what a wonderful sight it was. The fighting with your mother was endless and exhaustingt but you’re pleased you didn’t back down. The small tent is bursting with colour and is more of a fitting tribute to Fred than anything else could have been.
‘Whatever, Sir Lugless. That's not such a bad thing. He’d probably have more fun than the King anyway!’
‘True, true.’ The witty banter flows between you once again, natural as ever, just like it used be. ‘The best is yet to come, though. We have Weasley Wildfire Whiz-bangs set to go off at the end, as well as a few other little surprises.’ You tell him proudly.
‘Excellent! I couldn’t have planned it better myself. I do have one question for you though, George.’ His eyes darken, and just as he read your mind a few seconds ago, you know without a shadow of a doubt what’s coming next and you cringe. ‘Why, in the name of Merlin’s...' you close your eyes and listen to the list of profanities that stream from him. Death has clearly not sweetened his tongue. 'is Muriel here?’ He finally finishes, clearly outraged that the evil hag who has been the bane of both your lives since you were born is sat among the guests.
‘Mum.’ You answer simply, hoping he will understand. ‘She’s family George, she has to come.’ Your perfect imitation of your mother goes down well and you see the corner of his mouth twitch despite his anger. ‘Come on, I managed to convince her against the black.’
He sighs and you watch the annoyance leave his eyes.
‘So, George, seeing as you turned my funeral into a full blown drama and ran off before I got to have a good nosey at the rest of the guests, tell me, who else showed up in my honour?’
‘Well, I think you will feel very honoured and privileged to know that the one and only Mr Potter graced you with his presence.’
‘Well grease my hair and call me Snape. The Boy Who Lived at little old me’s funeral? I’ve never felt so special! He dusted old Voldy then, eh?’
‘It was great Fred, you would have loved it, so much style, he’s clearly learnt from the best.’
‘Yes, I am rather gutted I missed the show! Oh well. Has Gin forgiven him for leaving her yet?’
‘Pretty much I think. There has been much hand-holding and sneaking off together.’
‘Hmm, you have warned him, I hope, that if he ever hurts our darling baby sister again, that even a murdering nutcase with a bad nose job and a pet snake is no comparison for what si- five brothers can do?’ He catches himself quickly but you both heard it, and now the mistake hangs awkwardly in the silence of the air between you.
‘Charlie warned him just the other day that he still knows an angry Horntail with a grudge.’ You reply, desperate to break the tension. You quickly try to change the subject but your mind is just blank.
‘How’s everyone else George?’
You sigh, you don't want to talk about this. ‘Bill and Charlie, they’re dealing with it well. Well, in front of us they are anyway. They’re being so strong for us; I just don’t see how they manage it all the time. Percy is blaming himself. I never thought I’d miss him droning on about some boring topic nobody gives a damn about but it’s funny… you don’t know what you miss until it’s gone, even that would be better than watching him beat himself up all the time. Ron’s with the lovely Miss Granger these days but he’s not himself. We all just miss you so much.’
You watch him close his eyes and see the agony flick across his face as he listens to the pain his absence is causing.
‘And mum and dad?’ he whispers.
‘They’re not good Fred. They just walk around like zombies half the time. I haven’t seen them talk or eat properly in days.’
He opens his eyes the sadness in them is evident.
‘I didn’t want to go George, I promise. I fought so hard but I just had to let go. It wasn’t anyone’s fault; you have to make Percy see that. It was just my time to go is all and I was ok with that.’ A tear trickles down his cheek but he continues on. ‘I saw Angelina in there.’ His voice becomes barely a whisper. ‘I’ve never seen her look so… so hurt and just… sad. I can’t bear that I’m hurting you all so much George. You have to know though, this is the easy part. It’s you guys still living that have the hard part. Death is easy.’
He gives you a pleading look but your head is still trying to process what he said. You want to reassure him, tell him it's ok, but the thought of living the rest of your life like the last few weeks makes you want scream and kick out at the world. You don't want to be ok, you just want him back.
Thick tears spring into your eyes and roll down your face before you have time to catch them. You turn your face away from your brother, not wanting to hurt him with your sadness. Within seconds though you feel him move to sit next to you, his hand on your shoulder as he pulls you back toward him.
He sits in silence as he lets you cry yourself out. All the pain you've felt since the funeral comes gushing out of you. As you let it out bit by bit, a strange feeling comes over you that you can't quite put your finger on. Eventually though, the tears subside and you realise then you can say the words he wants to hear and mean them.
‘I understand.’ You finally whisper, and you do. It doesn’t make it hurt less and it doesn’t stop you missing him but you understand and it makes you feel lighter almost.
‘Thank you,’ he smiles, looking relieved. After a small pause the familiar mischievous glint appears in his eye. ‘You know George, I’m going to be really ear-itated** if you don’t go and finish your little heart-felt speech about me.’
‘I don’t know what to say Fred; I can’t make them understand what it’s like to lose you.’
‘So don’t try.’ He says simply. ‘We never were really ones for playing by the rules were we? Don't start trying to say what's expected of you now! Whatever you say will mean the world to me anyway.’
He stands up then holds his hand out to you. You take it and let him pull you up from the ground. As you turn to face each other you both grin identical smiles; the biggest smile you've managed in such a long time.
‘There you are!’ he cries and you both hug each other laughing.
‘Fred, is this real? Or has this been happening inside my head?*’ You ask him cautiously.
‘Of course it is happening inside your head, George, but why on earth should that mean that it is not real?*’ he replies with a roguish wink. ‘Oh, and George… Take care of Angelina for me.’
‘Of course.’ You reply, watching him step away from you. You take a deep breath and Apparate back to the spot you left behind.
At the small ‘pop’ that sounds as you reappear, you see the whole room muttering to each other about your sudden disappearance. Bill and Charlie are sprinting back up the aisle, breathless after chasing after you. A sudden hush falls across the hall.
‘I’m sorry everyone, I just needed a minute.’ You tell them. ‘You see, I didn’t know what I could say about losing the most important person in the world to me. There’s only two words I can think of that will truly some up my brother’s life for you all to understand though.’ You smile, knowing Fred is watching you, where ever he is now. ‘Mischief managed.’
Unbeknown to you, at the back of the marquee, your brother smiles unseen as he watches you say your piece.
‘Mischief managed George,’ he smiles as he fades away. ‘Until next time, brother’
AN - Thanks for reading and if you get the chance I'd love it if you managed to review too!
A couple of huge thank you's too Siriusly89 and Mystique17 for helping me get through writing this chapter!
Quotes marked with a * are a slight rephrasing of quotes from Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, page 579.
Quotes marked with a ** are by UnluckyStar57 and ohmymerlin... Thank you so much for your help guys :)